Saturday, November 15, 2008

Travel 19/7/08 – Nice Sailing

We all got off to an early start, although nobody as early as Ben who had slept in the treehouse and was awoken by the cracking of dawn which seems to crack in the treehouse long before it cracks anywhere else. Coffee was nabbed and then a taxi arrived to ferry us to the harbour town of Antibes.

French taxi drivers are consistent in that every single one will try to rip you off. It's part of their code. Like the code of black cabs in London which is to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the city and political views somewhere to the right of Goebbels; and the code of mini cabs everywhere which is to only rob and murder you when absolutely necessary.

At Antibes, we hired two boats, as one wasn't enough for all of us. We even hired a captain. The larger boat left first and made its way to the bay of billionaires. Here, and elsewhere along the coast, were the houses of the very rich and the very famous. Many of these houses are surprisingly ugly, but all had a great view of the sea. These were the houses of the Heinekens and the BMW's of this world. Further along there were the houses of the Abramovich's and the Madonna.

The bay was a calm, clear area and a few of us jumped in to swim, watching out for the jellyfish that were then plaguing certain areas. In fact there was a lot of talk of these jellyfish, and their status had grown to that of some kind of alien invasion force. In the end a couple of loose ones were spotted, but not the floating mass many were expecting and certainly not the giant, laser-squirting mother-jellyfish I had been expecting.

We had quite a wait for the other, smaller boat as the first one didn't work and they had to get a second. When they eventually arrived, beer and champagne were ferried across by swimmer. After we'd had enough of being surrounded by the houses of the filthy rich, we moved along the coast past the mock Roman pile of Roman Abramovich. The house was the first one we saw with obvious security guards around. According to our captain, who has a story for every boat and building, Abramovich has a policy of only employing security guards who do not speak Russian. Which says a lot about who his enemies are. Our captain also had a Naomi Campbell story, and apparently she really is a bitchy diva, which was a little disappointing.

We passed other harbour towns and then sailed to a small bay between two islands where there is no current and the water awesomely clear. It's basically a parking lot for yachts. Million-, billion- and squillionaires park their boats in a small crowded area of water and show off their engineeringly-enhanced craft and cosmetically-enhanced wives. It's the ultra-rich equivalent of the car park on Skegness seafront. If your boat is not quite up to scratch, the water police come by and tell you it's too crowded and you have to move on. However, even if you have a huge yacht the size of Malta, if it looks okay, there will always be space.

After a little bit of sun bathing amongst the big boats, swimming in the Elysian waters and ogling the bellies of the rich, we moved on. The smaller boat went off for a bit of water skiing and we went to go round a couple of old sailing boats and the dock in another bay for more swimming.

The waters were pretty calm that day, which is good as I am not a great sailor, despite what some people might say. I was only a little queasy a couple of times. The kids faired a little worse.

After returning the boats, we grabbed ice creams and then a couple of taxis to rip us off back home. That night we played Werewolf until fatigue took us all to our various beds.

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